February 2017
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Month February 2017

Voltaire

“Those who can make us believe absurdities, can make us commit atrocities.” -Voltaire

White House to FBI: Shoot Down Reports of Trump-Russia Connection, Please

This is part of series of posts on President Trump’s connections to the Russian mafia. One of these days, President Trump’s involvement with Russia is going to become a major story. The FBI has an ongoing investigation into Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia. The Senate Intelligence Committee plans an investigation. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) has also been making some noise on the subject. He’s the ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Last week, the New York Times reported that the President’s personal attorney Michael Cohen delivered a “peace plan” from Manafort, a mobbed-up, convicted felon, and a Russia-friendly member of the Ukrainian parliament. It barely made a blip on the national news Today, CNN reported that the White House requested that the FBI and other agencies investigating the Russia Connection to say that “the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts” between the Trump Administration and Russia. The FBI refused. The American media has had a hard enough time keeping up with the ongoing chaos of the Trump Administration, but Americans lack a good understanding of either Russia or organized crime. We need to get up to speed and […]

What We’re Fighting For

I’ve seen too many posts and comments here, and too many op eds around the country arguing that Democrats have to choose between an economic program that lifts working families up and fighting for civil rights for all Americans. Skeptics of fighting for civil rights mislabel it “identity politics” while skeptics of the working class agenda falsely equate it with the white nationalism of Trump. What the hell happened to our party? We used to believe fighting for civil rights and the New Deal were our greatest achievements. Hillary Clinton’s maiden speech of the presidential campaign at Roosevelt Island eloquently linked the fight for economic equality with the fight for civil rights. So have Sen. Sanders and Warren. We’re all on the same page if we signed up for this party. 1) Civil Rights Equal Justice for All. This means black lives must matter. This means stopping the inhuman deportations and travel bans of this administration. It means fighting on behalf of our Muslim and Jewish citizens when their houses of worship or burial grounds are targeted. This means making our schools bully free zones for Muslim, immigrant and LGBT students alike. And if the Feds won’t help us our […]

Did Globe Forget Inflation Exists & Miss Amazing MassHealth Story?

Boston Globe reporter Jon Chesto had a great story on Sunday about how Gov. Baker is floating a plan to sharply increase the per-employee fee on companies that don’t provide health coverage. I’m greatly summarizing, but MassHealth enrollment has nearly doubled over the last decade, with a comparable increase in costs to the state. It’s hard to say exactly what the main driver is, but but workers are taking advantage broader eligibility under Obamacare/ACA, while employers may be cashing in by letting big government pay for their workers’ health care. Accompanying the story is this graphic, designed to look like MassHealth spending is skyrocketing: The problem is that these numbers aren’t adjusted for inflation (if they are, the graphic doesn’t say so). If you don’t adjust for inflation, everything is much more expensive over time. In my day, the ferry to Shelbyville only cost a nickel! And here’s the thing: If you adjust for inflation, putting all the numbers in 2017 dollars, an amazing thing happens:

So… at what point should sane states secede?

Or at least try to secede? It’s pretty clear that there are many badly-broken things in our country. Our federal government is run by nuts, kleptomaniacs, and sadists. Our health care and health care reimbursement systems are a bizarre joke. We’re the only industrialized country to not have paid leave for sickness, child birth, and vacation. Our wealthy pay taxes at an astonishingly low rate, and openly purchase our legislators and our laws. And so forth. And there is no body, on whole, that speaks for the 99%. There are a few in power who look to do the right thing, but both major political parties are far to the right of the average American on many issues – war, taxes, health care, Social Security, etc. They serve the 1%, not us, and many have made personal fortunes in doing so. We are a stupid and savage nation. At what point does make sense to throw in the towel, and let the Scheisskopfs engage in their lunatic games without sucking us into the bonfire? Perhaps sane states like Massachusetts can join up with Canada or others to finally move beyond the great sickness that’s taken hold, because I don’t see […]

Piloting Field Trips

PILOT PAYMENTS LIGHT PILOT (Payment in lieu of taxes) reform often moves to the fore as budget season rolls around. In Boston half of the land is tax exempt, which strains our municipal services. Voluntary PILOT payments are not collected at nearly the rate that they are asked. What can be done? One idea that I hope gains traction centers around providing BPS students with more equitable opportunities for experiential learning at Boston’s many cultural institutions. The Museum of Science, The Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the New England Aquarium, and the Children’s Museum all refuse to pay the amount of money that the City of Boston requests. In fact, of the institutions mentioned above only the Museum of Fine Arts pays any of the CASH PILOT requested. The MFA was asked to pay $1,032,392 in CASH. They paid $68,920. All of these large institutions receive a substantial community benefit credit toward their PILOT payment – or lack thereof. Teachers know first hand that field trips are not easy to facilitate. One of the major impediments is lack of transportation to and from these world renowned cultural meccas. Navigating and relying on the overstrained MBTA with […]

Attention Boston City Councillor Andrea Campbell: You Must Run For District Attorney Because Dan Conley Is A Zit On Our Ass and You Can Beat Him

They guy is off the wall. He’s been in “business 30 years” you know. He should be running the judiciary. In fact Dan takes umbrage to the chief justice of the SJC advocating for the judicial branch of government. How dare he. Nope. Dan is the man. Just ask him. “My feeling is I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I’ve got a pretty good handle on who’s driving violence in our community. Judges don’t have that same handle, with all due respect,” he said. “Judges are more likely to make a significant mistake that could have a big impact on the community.” Dan Conley’s brain is smaller than a skittle.

People are thinking

Ideas to push priority issues has been made more difficult in this political climate. However I received an email today from a member of the Universalist Church that lives up to its name that puts forward a proposal to develop a single payer system. The writer is distributing the message through members of the church, and asking them to pass it on. Many who belong to the church are progressive activists. They are looking to broaden the chain of taking on more supporters. The proposal is here. The email also had the accompanying message:

PETE BUTTIGIEG FOR DNC CHAIR

The 36 year old Mayor of Indianapolis is my candidate for DNC Chair election this Saturday. He is seen as everyone’s second choice and an outside the Beltway generational bridge between the two stalemated inside factions — Congressman Keith Ellison from the Sanders wing and Labor Secretary Tom Perez under President Obama. He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and was endorsed just moments ago on Morning Joe by former Vermont Governor and DNC Chair, Howard Dean.  He’s also been endorsed by former DNC Chair and  MA Treasurer Steve Grossman and MD Governor Martin O’Malley. Dean said he would not only lead a 50 state strategy but he would lead a 50 year strategy to re-build the party from the ground up ! Call your member of Congress @ 202-224-3121 — even though they are NOT voting members of the DNC — to let them hear your voice on this important election for the future of our beloved Democratic Party.  Some MOC can and have ENDORSED candidates for Chair. Thank you for your kind consideration. Fred  Rich  LaRiccia

If you see something…

I see on their website that the Dept. of Homeland Security has trademarked the phrase “If you see something, say something.TM”  I wonder if that will interfere with my t-shirt design?  In any case, I offer it under a creative commons Attribution – Share Alike license, and leave it to people who are more artistically and entrepreneurially inclined than I am (and possibly their attorneys) to take care of the implementation. It looks like this: See something? Greed Fear Bigotry Say something! The words in the list could be over someone’s picture, or moved around to form the legs of a triangle with a picture or graphic inside; the words in the list could be adjusted to suit your particular concerns. Time to start reminding people that security comes in a variety of flavors, and that there are alternative approaches to hiding behind a wall with as many guns as you can stockpile.